Episodic Future Thinking in Young Children: Considering Body Mass and Memory
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With the increase in pediatric obesity, research continues to evaluate new intervention strategies to improve the effectiveness of current obesity treatments. One area of study which may hold promise for pediatric obesity treatments is the use of Episodic Future Thinking (EFT), which is the ability to think of the future based on the present moment or past experiences, and the role of oneself in these episodes or experiences. Additionally, previous literature in EFT has begun to examine the effects that additional variables, such as memory, have on an individual’s ability to engage in EFT. The current study aimed to evaluate whether EFT is associated with child’s weight status and age, and whether EFT differs with motivational state and memory. Fifty-seven children and their parents were recruited from the Kansas City area. Children completed brief measures of intelligence (Kauffman Brief Intelligence Test – 2), memory (Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning – 2), impulsivity (Tasks of Executive Control), and four EFT tasks. Parents also completed the Eysenck Youth Questionnaire for Impulsiveness, and rated their child. Results found that neither intelligence or memory were related to EFT performance. However, many children exhibited poor memory for EFT specific questions, suggesting that specific memories may be related to use of EFT. Additionally, higher impulsivity was associated with poorer EFT in univariate analyses, but not in multivariate regressions, and the relationship between impulsivity and EFT was marginally higher during non-motivated tasks than during motivated tasks. No relationship was found between EFT and child’s weight status. Though no significant results were found between EFT and pediatric obesity, relationships were found between impulsivity and EFT. Given the documented relationship between child weight status and impulsivity, this warrants continued research. Also, this study suggests that future studies do not need to account for intelligence and broad memory when designing EFT studies. However, researchers may consider accounting for differences in memory that are specific to EFT.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Methodology -- Results -- Discussion -- Appendix A. List of books available to children -- Appendix B. Picture book task -- Appendix C. Smiley face -- Appendix D. Snack and juice task -- Appendix E. Pictures used for picture book task 1